2017 is the first year that I’ve decided to embrace time-trialling. Up until now I’ve resisted because I didn’t want to have to buy a whole new set of kit just to be competitive – new wheels, aerobars, skin suit, fancy helmet and all the other bits. Part of the reason that I’ve finally bit the bullet is that I’ve been training hard and going well but wanted something to release those competitive juices onto. I did some British Cycling racing in 2014, but stopped because every race seemed to have a crash in it and I was spending money to race basically to watch out for the crash instead of having fun. I figured with time trialling, if I crashed, I’d only have myself to blame.
The season kicked off with 3 club time trials, my first foray, and results of 4th, 5th and 9th. As these were respectable I decided to sign up for the next level up, a CTT Open Time Trial. The Diana Cooke Memorial TT was to take place on the K41/10 circuit (the coding is a hangover from the old days where events were shrouded in secrecy and only cyclists would have a list of what the codes mean) between Hinckley and Lutterworth. 4 other Stratford CC club mates had also entered and would be setting times too.
Having got the train to Hinckley it was a 4 and a half mile hop to the village of Wolvey where the local primary school was re-purposed as the Event HQ. I’d been wearing regular clothes for the train journey up, as well as the ride from the station so had to get myself changed in the smallest cubicle ever. Plenty of banging elbows, hopping from one foot to the other to avoid touching the floor before finally I looked like someone who might actually be taking part in the race. I signed-on, took my rider number and went out into the car park where I found my club mates. Awhile was spent chatting and assisting with the pinning on of race numbers before the start times got closer. A short hop of close to 2 miles took us to the lay-by where the start line was.
My number was called and I sidled up to the start line, literally a line drawn on the road and hopped up onto the saddle with the bike held up for me. The countdown began – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and GO! An out of the saddle sprint got me up to speed before settling down onto my aerobars. The first little rise showed I was probably in too harsh a gear to begin with and the way my legs hurt on the hill of sorts up to the Fosse Way crossroads showed that maybe I hadn’t warmed up enough, I must be getting old. The slight descent for the remaining 3 miles to the half-way roundabout was completely negated by the strong headwind which made every pedal stroke at speed a struggle. I was passed by the minute-man (the guy who started a minute behind me) disappointingly quickly, but afterwards the only other people I saw were on the other side of the road.
My luck wasn’t in on the approach to the roundabout, a car and a truck were coming from the right so I had to slow to a near stop and then have to try and regain that speed whilst leaving the island. The marshalls on every exit pointed me towards the correct exit, back up the way I’d come. I managed to scare one marshall who seemed to think I was going to come off an exit early, I had it all in hand! The tailwind was a welcome relief, but having worked hard into the headwind the legs were on fire with a while left to go. The climb back up to the Fosse was a longer easier affair from this side, but going flat out knowing it was a descent the other side, it really really hurt. The tailwind descent to the finish line was fun, some proper speed to finish off and a sprint for the line.
A slow ride back to the HQ, hamstrings complaining at the effort I’d put through them, the timings were being put up onto a board already. I’d clocked 25:20, which was a new 10 mile PB (admittedly I’ve not done many so most are PBs currently) – good enough to put me 47th of 80 riders on the day. The club mates managed 23:10, 23:26 (the two guys that win the club TTs), 25:09 (I’m always finishing just behind Steve) and 26:10. The best time on the day was 20:59.